If you’re part of a small business, you probably know there is an unspoken point of no return when it comes to advertising. If your company is a huge corporation, though, you may not even know this topic is so polarizing. Small businesses, at some point in their growth, have to make the decision of whether or not to pay for advertising.
Twenty years ago, this would have been a no-brainer. You can’t run a business without advertising, right? How will anyone ever hear of you? Well, that’s the way it used to be. If you had a good product, there was no other choice than to sell it to a big company or start paying an advertising agency. Now, though, we have other (and better) ways of communicating our ideas and solutions to the people of the world. You can make a Facebook page, or start posting on Instagram. You can create a profile for your business on business listings, or change some words on your website to optimize your Google ranking (ok, maybe that one isn’t so easily attainable). The point is, you now have many ways to communicate (or “advertise”) to people that don’t cost you a dime.
But what if you aren’t satisfied with these free ways of earning business? I’d say you can always make your social media presence more effective, but that’s another blog post. On top of the more conversation advertising you’re doing, you could advertise with direct mail, or with ads in a publication. Millions of these publications exist across the U.S. and they may work well for you. The problem with ads like this for the small business owner is that they’re expensive.
Maybe it’s a great deal and you’d get a lot of business from it, but it’s simply too much up-front cash to spend. I hear you, and that’s why I advertising through the internet, when it makes sense.
Internet advertising is cheap, because you’re not paying for stuff to be printed or a third party to distribute it; you’re just paying to get it out there.
Before I talk about the paid advertising available on the internet, I need to talk about free email marketing. Services like MailChimp offer free email marketing capability for most small businesses. You build a list of people from your website or even your Facebook page, and you’re able to communicate with these people as often as you want, free-of-charge. This is one of the best ways to advertise to people in a medium they prefer without spending money.
Other than that, though, the internet marketing platform has grown tremendously in the last few years. Most major social networks offer boosted ways of promoting your business through their site. This isn’t just “canvas” advertising either; you’re not just putting it out there for everyone to see. Instead, you get to target special types of people with many different filters. This means you’re able to communicate with the people who want or need your product most, which stretches your dollar further.
Another way to communicate with your prime audience is to use Google AdWords. Through AdWords, you can make a customized plug for your website right in Google’s search results. You can also serve up image ads on various websites your consumer is using, at their most relevant points. All of this, in my experience, is a much more effective use of money, especially if you have a limited amount of it.